My last trip took me to the third largest country in Europe: France. A region, which is famous for delicious wines, modern fashion and tasty food. Besides that, it’s a paradise for travel photographers. The country offers a fantastic diversity of different landscapes and rural areas. Two fantastic places to experience photography in France are the unique landscapes of Provence with its blooming lavender fields and the famous Tour du Mont Blanc in the french alps.
Landscape Photography: Lavender Fields at Valensole
A great place to start exploring the Provence is Valensole. The small village got world-famous for its purple lavender fields. The lavender season starts in June and ends in the middle of August. Due to this short time frame, it can be tough to find accommodation in the area. I rented a cottage in Gréoux-les-Bains which is a 15-minute drive to Valensole.
The lavender fields itself are marvelous. Most of them are placed along the main road and easy to access. I preferred to take a long lens with me to compress the long blooming lines. Moreover, it helps to outline the purple blossoms which appear closer to each other. My favorite shots where all taken during sunset to implement the wonderful colors of the sky.
Spectacular View: The Verdon Canyon
Another highlight in the Provence is the Verdon Canyon. Some people even call it the Grand Canyon du Verdon. It is one of the biggest canyons of Europe and leads from Castellane to Moustiers-Sainte-Marie (45 minutes from Valensole). It’s formed by the Verdon River which appears in a remarkable turquoise color.
The location is one of the best places to capture the landscapes of Provence. The dark rock formations build a perfect contrast to the bright river. If you are lucky, you can enjoy the glowing sunset in the Canyon all by yourself. Most of the tourists visit the Canyon in the middle of the day and leave the evening hours for photographers.
Landscapes of Provence: Lac de Sainte-Croix
The Lac de Sainte-Croix is an artificial lake, located right next to the Verdon Canyon. Besides photography reasons, it’s a wonderful place to take a day off. You can find several main beaches and private areas around the lake.
If you are looking for a great landscape spot, I can highly recommend the road leading to the Verdon Canyon. No other place in Provence gives you such a great panorama view over the lake. Another great argument for this location are animals. If you are into wildlife photography, you can spot plenty of Ibexes and birds on your way to the Canyon.
Photography in France: The Village of Gordes
One of the best photo-spots in France is the Village of Gordes. The old town is located on a small hill right next to Roussilon and the popular Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque. It’s classified as one of the “plus beaux villages de France” and definitely worth a visit.
You can get the classical view over Gordes from a small panorama platform. It’s placed right next to the road leading to Sénanque (you can’t miss it). The location is one of my personal favorites for travel photography in France, especially during sunset when the houses get enlightened by the last sunbeams. The perfect place to finish a trip to Provence.
Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB): Spectacular Mountain Peaks
The second part of trip started in the middle of the french alps at Chamonix-Mont-Blanc. It’s the start of the world-famous Tour de Mont Blanc (TMB) which leads hikers around the whole Mont Blanc massif (110 miles ~ 8 days). You have to travel with a backpack and choose different huts for your night stop (depending on your fitness level). The hike itself is challenging, but leads you to the most peaceful places in nature.
I took my whole camera equipment (camera, tripod, lenses, filter, drone, remote control) with me (bad idea!) which made the hike even harder. Additionally, I was not able to film with my drone because of some technical issues. Nevertheless, I could manage to take some images with my camera and captured some impressive mountain peaks.
Astrophotography: Milky way over Mont Blanc
The TMB is not an easy route for photographers. The steep path and long ways don’t give you so much time for photography. Even the late arrival at the hut is characterized by a short time table (showering, eating and sleeping). Due to that, I was not really in the mood to take pictures every day. It was one of the few situations in my life, where it felt better to enjoy nature without a camera.
Still, I had one particular shot in mind: the Milky Way over Mont Blanc. It really challenged me to capture the whole Milky Way bow over the Mont Blanc massif, but in the end it was totally worth the effort. I spend nearly two hours in the dark night until the Milky Way appeared directly over the mountain peaks. An unbelievable feeling, which no picture on earth can reproduce. What a great end of a perfect trip!
The astrophotography picture itself consists of six vertical shots, stitched together to one panorama image (in total 3.6 million pixel):